The following contains spoilers for Shuri #1, on sale now.
There isn't a comic book character quite so potentially confusing with their recent pop culture blowup quite like Shuri. As the princess of Wakanda and a Black Panther herself, she's gone from being a queen and superpowered (somewhat young) adult in the comics to a teenage girl and technological prodigy that's also the smartest person in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the poster girl for young black girls to become interested in STEM. Whenever one talks about Black Panther the film, it's hard for her not to become brought up, as Letitia Wright's performance and her now iconic Panther Gauntlets showed little girls everywhere they can be heroes, too.
Created by Reginald Hudlin and John Romita Jr. in 2005, Shuri comes at a crossroads in the larger Marvel media landscape. No one really predicted that she would take off from the movies as much as she did, but who she is in the films is so starkly different from her comics version (where she can turn into birds and flies around in battle armor) that it couldn't help but be called out. Like all characters in the Black Panther movie, her popularity blew up to unexpected proportions, and now she and film villain Erik Killmonger will be getting their own solo comics. Unlike Killmonger, though, Shuri's has to address the juggernaut she's become in the films while staying true to her more recent developments on the page.
To its credit, Shuri #1 by Nnedi Okorafor, Leonardo Romero, Jordie Bellaire, and Joe Sabino, does bring the title character closer to who she is in the films. Visually, she slowly changes her look to resemble her film counterpart, and over the course of the issue, shows her technological prowess. But beyond that, the story is more about how Shuri wants to figure out who she is beyond the titles bestowed upon her at birth. Nowhere is this more apparent than in a flashback where she saved her brother from a snake while he was training and complimented more for saving future royalty.
All of this comes as Wakanda deals with the fallout of her brother and Manifold going to space (Black Panther readers know how that turns out, which is to say, not well). While the council has been worrying about the nation's public image and wondering if the two men will ever return, Shuri's been keeping herself busy, making new tech and just flying around Wakanda. But the mental prodding from her ancestors and physical prodding from the council is forcing her to confront the grim truth she's been trying to ignore.
Like anyone who's grown up with an older sibling who suddenly leaves their life, there's a true sense of loneliness throughout the issue, reminding you that in both the comics and the films (thanks to Avengers: Infinity War), Shuri is very much alone. Here, her mother Ramonda is present physically, but not so much emotionally. In fact, the only one she can really confide in is a hacker she texts with, who doesn't think of her as royalty, which really shows how isolated she feels from everything going on.
Shuri is asked to take the Panther mantle again in the final pages of an issue that concludes with the uncertainty of whether she accepts the offer or not -- and that may be for the best. Shuri needs to figure out who she is at her own pace, and judging by the solicits for the next few issues, it's going to be quite a journey of self discovery.